בנימין נתניהו פגישה עם נשיא ארה"ב דונלד טראמפ וושינגטון ארה"ב
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Donald Trump
Photo: Reuters
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Donald Trump

Trump's peace plan may polarize the Middle East it seeks to calm

Analysis: While PM prepares to head to Washington and Gantz weighs invite, an Abbas spokesman says no communication with White House, no peace deal can be implemented without 'approval of Palestinian people and leadership'

Reuters |
Published: 01.24.20 , 17:49
As U.S. President Donald Trump prepares to host Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue & White leader Benny Gantz in Washington to reveal details of his long-delayed Middle East peace plan, Palestinians warned on Friday that no deal could work without them on board.
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  • Trump invited Netanyahu and his chief rival centrist to the White House next week, saying he would reveal details of his plan before his Tuesday meeting with Netanyahu.
    בנימין נתניהו פגישה עם נשיא ארה"ב דונלד טראמפ וושינגטון ארה"בבנימין נתניהו פגישה עם נשיא ארה"ב דונלד טראמפ וושינגטון ארה"ב
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Donald Trump
    (Photo: Reuters)
    But Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said there had been no communication with the Trump administration, and that no peace deal could be implemented without "the approval of the Palestinian people and the Palestinian leadership."
    "This is the only way if they are serious, if they are looking for stability in the whole region," Rudeineh said.
    Israeli-Palestinian peace talks collapsed in 2014 and Palestinians have called Trump's proposal dead in the water, even before its publication, citing what they see as his pro-Israel policies.
    The Palestinians have boycotted political dealings with the Trump administration since it reversed decades of U.S. policy on the conflict, splintering the international consensus.
    Donald Trump and Mahmoud Abbas meeting in Bethlehem in 2017 Donald Trump and Mahmoud Abbas meeting in Bethlehem in 2017
    Donald Trump and Mahmoud Abbas meeting in Bethlehem in 2017
    (Photo: AFP)
    It has refused to endorse the two-state solution - the longtime international peace formula that envisages a Palestinian state established in territory that Israel captured in the 1967 Six-Day War.
    The Trump administration also recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital and moved its embassy there, and announced that Washington no longer views Israeli settlements on West Bank land as "inconsistent with international law."
    Palestinians and most of the international community see the settlements as illegal under the 1949 Geneva Conventions that bar populating land captured in war. Israel disputes this, citing historical, biblical and political connections to the land, as well as security needs.
    Trump, speaking to reporters on his flight home from the World Economic Forum in Davos, acknowledged Palestinians might react negatively to his plan at first but that "it's actually very positive for them."
    בנימין נתניהו פגישה עם ג'ארד קושנר ו ג'ייסון גרינבלט ב ירושליםבנימין נתניהו פגישה עם ג'ארד קושנר ו ג'ייסון גרינבלט ב ירושלים
    L-R: Ex-U.S. envoy Jason Greenblatt, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, Jared Kushner, PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli Ambassador to U.S. Ron Dermer
    (Photo: GPO)
    Israel withdrew from tiny Gaza in 2005, which was taken over by the Hamas terror group a year later and has since fought three wars with Israel.
    Trump, speaking to reporters on his flight home from the World Economic Forum in Davos, acknowledged Palestinians might react negatively to his plan at first but that "it's actually very positive for them."
    "It's a great plan. It's a plan that really would work."
    By contrast Netanyahu immediately accepted Trump's invite.
    "I think the president is seeking to give Israel the peace and security that it deserves," Netanyahu said on Thursday.
    Gantz's office did not immediately confirm whether he accepted Trump's invitation, and his party is believed to be leaning towards rejecting the offer as they view it as a "political exercise" by Netanyahu.
    גנץ ומקרוןגנץ ומקרון
    Benny Gantz meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron in Jerusalem on Thursday
    (Photo: AFP)
    Clashing perspectives
    The political aspects of Trump's peace initiative have been kept under wraps. Only the economic proposals have been unveiled, anchored by a $50 billion regional development plan - which Palestinians spurned as it did not address an end to Israeli occupation.
    Israeli headlines on Friday referred to the "Trump Summit" and "Trump Deal". Nahum Barnea, a political analyst for Ynet's sister publication Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, expected "an American green light" for Israel to annex West Bank settlement blocs and the Jordan Valley, which forms the border with Jordan to the east.
    Palestinian newspapers highlighted warnings that such moves would end peace chances and pitch the region into a "new phase."
    In Tel Aviv, Israelis appeared generally supportive of their leaders going to Washington, even without Palestinians.
    "We don't have to go back to the previous peace process that was signed over 25, 30 years ago," said Yael Rozencwajg, 41, a tech executive from Tel Aviv. "The situation has completely changed since then. Trump has started recognizing that."
    In explaining the U.S. change of stance on settlements this month, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the new approach would actually advance peace with the Palestinians "by [speaking] the truth when the facts lead to it."
    Palestinians challenged the U.S. and Israeli stances.
    נשיא טורקיה טאיפ ארדואן קיבל היום את פניו של מנהיג חמאס איסמאעיל הנייה באיסטנבולנשיא טורקיה טאיפ ארדואן קיבל היום את פניו של מנהיג חמאס איסמאעיל הנייה באיסטנבול
    Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh meeting with Turkish President Tayyip Recep Erdogan
    In al-Auja, a Jordan Valley village flanked by Israeli settlements, Salim Abu Kharbesh, 59, said: "We are the inhabitants of the land, and they have come to us in spite of us, and in violence. They own nothing in this land."
    In Gaza, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said no U.S. plan could alter realities on the ground.
    "Our people will not accept it, and will confront it with all their might," he said.

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